Does this photo unnerve you? Does it make you slightly queasy? I’m sure you’ll figure out why, but isn’t it curious that our brains try to make sense of what may be nonsense. And that process either results in an illusion we adopt as reality, or our brains fail and the result is a disturbing reprocessing loop, a cycle of trying to figure out what the hell it is we’re seeing.

Our visual cortex takes up a vast amount of our brain. Patterns sent to that visualization engine are coerced into classifications tuned over millions of generations of evolutionary refinement. When a new pattern, perhaps one that is nonsensical in its current orientation, is sent requesting analysis and classification—but that categorization fails, it seems that one of two things happen:

1) The image is so chaotic that it overwhelms the brain’s pattern processing capabilities resulting in an acceptance of chaos, a “this cannot be understood” conclusion. At this point our brain gives up and a certain calm ensues.

2) The image registers just below the brain’s threshold of chaos. There’s enough sense, enough recognizable pattern evidence that the brain does not give up and continues to try and come to grips with the subject matter within the image. At this point we typically find, “that thing’s making me sick, take it away.”

Your thoughts?




Hetty Eliot over on called me out. That’s no illusion. OK, she got me. So what and where are the best illusions? was one of the better ones.

2014 Best Illusion of the Year Contest


33 thoughts on “Perspective

  1. My first thought was This garden needs to be weeded. But then I saw in the comments (an advantage to coming late to the party) the suggestion to rotate it. And now I think it’s pretty. Still needs a little weeding though;-)

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  2. It wasn’t chaos but it did make me sick as my brain started rotating the image over and over again. “It’s upside down!” it yelled, spinning it faster and faster.

    Has this post been inspired by the whole “what color are these flip-flops?” thing?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re speaking to a certifiable electronic musician. I used to make polyrhythmic percussion out of rush hour traffic. I once dissected the sound a freight train on the tracks and rebuilt it with a Minimoog and an OB1 Sequencer. Still have it. Chaos is fabulous. Particularly in nature. Monet was wise enough to observe that painting, yeah yeah, but there were things in nature that if you tried to paint them, or even recreate them you could go quite mad. He almost froze to death trying to figure out what color snow was. So yeah, it’s all about me. My real answer?

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    1. Yeah, that’s it.

      Everyone was looking for something amazing, something startling or shocking. And when it didn’t come… Blah. WTH? WTF?

      All I did was flip the image over. But when I did so, it looked almost correct, but not really. There was something off, kind of confusing about it. So I ran with it.

      I should have found or made some alien being birthed through the mouth of an infant, tentacles and feelers inching forward, compound eyes peering out from nostrils, neck purple from being stretched by too many legs.
      Oh well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s funny how once a seemingly sensible pattern reveals itself, it can’t be unseen. For example, that trick drawing called My Wife and My Mother in Law. Regardless of how long it may take someone to visualize both subjects in the single image, the brain can only be challenged by it once. Every time I see it now, both images are simultaneously clear.

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  5. My brain is at times nonsense that desperately craves some sense.
    But then, good nonsense is nothing but disguised sense.
    I’m sensing lots of nonsense around. Bad nonsense, which makes no sense at all, and I tried to talk some sense into it but it wouldn’t listen.

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  6. You guys must be talking about a completely different picture than what I’m seeing.. i see plants, flowering, nothing out of the ordinary. Cats? Baby birds? Spider’s POV? I don’t see a brain twister here unless you’re asking me to stare at it long enough to create one. Nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe an unrecognizable object to the upper right side, but my brain dismisses it out hand.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi A. Mole,

    So I see a bunch of cats hiding beneath the plants and there are a few snakes and two baby birds with their mouths open. I am taking it that this is a photo of plants lain over a petting zoo somewhere on the outskirts of Vienna. That is my take anyway. Everyone is different on these matters and we have to relive our lives, over and over again, despite who might be offended or bore. It is really all we have, this constant repeating of our days. Thanks. Duke

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That would make sense. I wonder how their brains treat perspective differently; after all, they seem unbound by gravity.

      A covid abandoned school grounds, planted and left to fend for itself.

      Liked by 1 person

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